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It is amazing how human psychology works and understanding it is one of the key knowledge pillars for any sales person. And by sales person I not only refer to the traditional holders of the position but also leaders, entrepreneurs, kids, employees, basically everyone, at one point or the other you had to pitch something or yourself to someone. The difference between a great sales person and the normal dude is that the former understands how to tap into the right emotions in order to get the deal done. Today’s lesson came from an unfortunate incident that happened to my father:

A man calls him pretending to be from Safaricom claiming that he has won a bonus of KSH 75,000 that will be paid in two installments. Awesome, right? The man continues on to tell my father to save a number as MPESA… At this point in time Father was rushing to see someone, somewhere and so he just complies, no alarm bells ringing — yet. The man also asks my father to key in a code and to include some details, one of which was his MPESA pass key… Still no alarms ringing in Father’s head.

So he receives a message from the “MPESA” number saying he’s received Ksh 50,000 into his account, which he believes is true. But what really happened was that the code triggered a Pesapoint withdrawal. Fortunately, there wasn’t much money in the account and the thief realizing this called my father and asks him to put in another Ksh6000. This time alarm bells starts ringing, why add more money? But he’s already trapped as the code also blocked outgoing calls.

So he can’t call customer care to block the transaction and has to wait till he gets home when he tries to contact CC through my mother’s phone. But lines are full and he doesn’t get through. Thank God for twitter though, as the team called the number (incoming calls had no problem) and helped unblock the number.

The guy(s) behind this really did their homework and must’ve known how the system works so I won’t be surprised if it was a disgruntled (ex)employee who found a loophole in the system to make this happen. At the end of the day though, they still had to convince the victim to fall for it. Through confidence and preparation they were able to tap into the desire of the victim to be the recipient of an extra Ksh75,000 and this reduced the barriers that are normally there. I am not commending their actions, far from it. But if you are trying to convince anyone of anything you have to look for that emotion that will make the person reduce the barriers that would’ve prevented them from making the desired decision.

On the BBC show “Mind of a Millionaire” one of the successful interviewees actually goes to visit teenagers who are in jail because of stealing or similar crimes. The reason being that people who engage in such activities and business people actually think in a very similar manner; therefore, he tries to encourage them to use their brains for good by taking advantage of business opportunities rather than hurting society. It’s the same situation here, the person behind this clearly has some brains and the ability to come up with such a scheme means he can definitely use his intellect to benefit society. Imagine being able to change the mindset of all the young Kenyans who resort to petty crimes to survive and give them the tools to make it happen in a more positive way, won’t Kenya have a much brighter future to look forward to?

In conclusion, be wary of these cunning scams but remember that this unfortunate event also has a silver lining, we learnt a sales lesson and we should try to think how we can change the perspective of such cunning thieves in order for them to help society instead of picking our [digital] pockets and making us miserable for a few hours.

And of course thank you Safaricom Twitter team for getting someone to call.

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